Anzac biscuits (an Australian classic!)

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Anzac biscuits are an Australian classic, believed to have been sent to the ANZAC’s (Australian and New Zealand Army Corps) during World War I. Everyone seems to love this crunchy biscuit made from oats, desiccated coconut, flour, butter, sugar and syrup. They are super easy to make, taking about 8 mins prep plus 10-20 mins baking, and are great warm or cold. If you have kids they could help out – once mixed they are just dolloped on to a baking tray so don’t have to look perfect, as you can see!
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Recipe is from Annabel Karmel’s rather excellent ‘The Fussy Eaters Recipe Book’. The biscuits will keep for a few days in an airtight container and can be frozen.  Just look at my son tucking in…
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Anzac biscuits (makes approx 18)

85g porridge oats
85g desiccated coconut
100g caster or brown sugar
100g plain flour
Pinch of salt
100g butter/marge, melted
1 tbsp golden syrup
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
2 tbsp boiling water

Grease a couple of baking trays with butter or marge and preheat the oven to 180 degrees/gas mark 4.

Mix the oats, coconut, sugar, flour and salt in a large bowl. Melt the butter in a small pan and stir in the golden syrup. Add the bicarbonate of soda to 2 tbsp boiling water, then stir into the golden syrup and butter mixture. Pour the wet ingredients in to the dry ingredients and mix well.

Put dessertspoons of the mixture on to the baking trays, flatten the tops slightly and place a fair bit apart to allow room for spreading – they can increase up to twice in size when baking.

Bake for 10-20 mins, turning them over halfway through once the bottom is cooked. They should be golden brown on each side. The exact time will depend a bit on your oven. If your oven is not great like mine then swap the shelves around halfway through too. Leave 10 mins to firm up before eating!

Sundried tomato and olive loaf (no knead!)

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If, like me, you are scared of properly making bread and/or are short on time, then this sundried tomato and olive loaf is for you.  You literally mix all the ingredients together and chuck it in the oven, with no need to knead (!)  Once cooled the loaf cuts brilliantly and the sundried tomatoes, olives and dried herbs give it a lovely flavour.  It looks highly impressive and tastes seriously good with just butter on top.  I also cut the loaf in to small pieces and took it at school pick up, so it works well as an outdoor snack too.

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Allow 20 mins prep and 45 mins baking time.  You could freeze portions in bags then take out the same morning to eat at lunch.  Thank you to http://www.bbcgoodfood.com for the inspiration!

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Sundried tomato and olive loaf (approx 12 slices)

200g self-raising flour

Good shake dried mixed herbs or chopped thyme

3 eggs, lightly beaten

200ml milk

Very large handful pitted black or green olives, chopped in half

100g sundried tomatoes, roughly chopped

100g cheddar, grated

Heat the oven to 190 degrees/gas mark 5.  Line the base of a medium loaf tin with greaseproof paper and grease the sides with oil/butter.

Mix the flour and herbs together in a large bowl.  Make a well in the centre, then add the eggs and milk, stirring all the time to draw the flour into the centre. Beat for 1 min to make a smooth batter.  If it remains lumpy, use a whisk to help separate the lumps (you will need to put some welly in to it!)

Add the tomatoes, most of the olives and two-thirds of the cheese to the batter. Pour into the tin, then sprinkle with the remaining olives and cheese. Bake for 35-45 mins until the loaf is golden and crusty on top and a knife inserted comes out clean. Cool in the tin for 10 mins, then turn out.  It will cut easier once it has cooled.  Will keep for a few days in a sealed container.  Gorgeous with butter on top!

No-bake booster bars

 

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These booster bars are simple to make, packed full of goodness and energy and are also sugar free.   The honey and dates provide the sweet hit, the nuts add crunch and the lemon/orange zest give extra flavour.  They are great for trips out and as an after-school snack for ‘starving’ children (their words, not mine).  You can also be flexible with what dried fruit/nuts/seeds you use – see the recipe for more info!

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Allow 15 mins prep plus an hour max to set in the fridge.  The bars will last a few days in a sealed container.

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No-bake booster bars (makes 15 bars)

200g dates, roughly chopped or 200g raisins/dried cranberries
170g roughly chopped nuts (any is fine – I used mixed nuts)
30g seeds e.g. linseeds/pumpkin seeds/sunflower seeds
100g oats
100g honey
85g peanut butter
Grated zest of 1 lemon/orange

Melt the peanut butter and honey in a saucepan on a low heat, then add the other ingredients and mix well.

Line a smallish baking tray with greaseproof paper and spoon the mixture in, patting it down so it is evenly spread and tightly packed. Once cooled put in the fridge for an hour or so to harden, then cut in to bars. Will last a few days in a sealed container.

 

Cooking with kids – Prawn toasts

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I recently took the kids to a Chinese cafe to try out some Chinese food – the only thing they ate was rice and prawn toasts, which they LOVED.  We simplified an already straightforward sounding BBC recipe and tried making them at home: using a food processor you blitz prawns, cornflour, an egg white, garlic and spring onion, spread the mixture on bread, press on to sesame seeds then fry.  They are crunchy, delicious and authentic tasting!

My kids were ‘busy playing batpowder’ (whatever that means) so only helped a little – cutting bread in to (vague) triangle shapes and operating the food processor.

 

I strongly believe every second counts when ‘cooking with kids’ – somedays they might want to get really involved, other days they give just 10 seconds of their time and other days completely refuse.  But it is all experience and it is good for them to see the process!

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You could prepare the prawn paste in advance if you want to save time later, and store any leftovers in the fridge.  Allow around 25 minutes to make the prawn toasts, depending on how much the kids get involved (or not!)  The toasts are great with sweet chilli sauce, for dipping.  We ate them with strawberries, a bit of an odd combination but we like both so why not.

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Prawn toasts (serves 4 as a snack or part of a meal)

4 pieces of bread, crusts removed

1/2 cup of cooked prawns i.e. pink!

2 spring onions (white bit only)

1/2 clove garlic

1/2 white of an egg

Dessert spoon of cornflour

Sesame seeds

For frying – vegetable or sunflower oil

Put all the ingredients apart from the sesame seeds and oil in a food processor and blend until they are a paste.  Cut each piece of bread in to four triangles.  Spread the prawn mixture on to one side of each of the bread triangles and press down.  Fill a wide bowl or plate with sesame seeds and press each triangle in to it, so a layer of sesame seeds stick to the prawn paste.

Fill a saucepan with around 1/2 inch of sunflower or vegetable oil and once hot (but not smoking) plop in the breads for about 30 seconds on the plain side and around 1 minute on the prawn and sesame side until deep golden (this will vary a little so use your own judgement).  Use a slotted spoon to turn them over if you have one, otherwise a tablespoon will work (just make sure any excess oil drips off after they are cooked!)  Eat.

 

Quesadillas (a top recipe!)

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These quesadillas were described by my 5 year old son as ‘awesome’ (a word normally only used to describe lego creations).  They take just 15 mins and are really versatile.  Quesadillas originate from Mexico and are made by putting a tortilla wrap in a frying pan, sprinkling on cheese and vegetables (and plenty of other possible ingredients), then topping it with another tortilla.  Once cooked and crispy on both sides they can be cut in to  portions.  This recipe uses red pepper, spring onion, cheddar cheese and dried herbs but you could also use: other cheeses (such as goats cheese or red leicester), chorizo, ham, cooked chicken, mushrooms, tomatoes, fresh coriander or fresh chilli.  Mumsnet even has a breakfast quesadilla recipe with sausage, scrambled egg, cheese and tomato inside.  And we ate the two leftover tortillas the next day with grated cheese, grated apple and a little grated broccoli, for a savoury/sweet snack.  You can buy gluten-free tortillas.

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Pile the cooked and cut quesadillas on to a plate so people can help themselves, and eat alongside avocado slices, guacamole and/or sour cream.  To make a quick guacamole mash avocado then add garlic, salt and pepper and olive oil.  And finely chopped tomatoes, chilli and coriander if you have them (not essential though).  A beer is a pretty good accompaniment too!

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Any leftover tortillas can be folded and frozen in freezer bags then taken out to defrost a few hours before needed.  For an alternative and equally tasty tortilla recipe try these veggie mince cups: https://katielovescooking.wordpress.com/2016/01/21/veggie-mince-cups/

Quesadillas (serves 4)

6 flour tortilla wraps

1/2 red pepper, finely chopped

4 spring onions, finely chopped

100g cheddar cheese, grated

Dried herbs or roughly chopped fresh coriander

Place a tortilla wrap in a medium hot, dry frying pan (no oil needed).  Sprinkle over 1/3 of the grated cheese, 1/3 of the chopped pepper and 1/3 of the chopped spring onions plus a sprinkle of herbs.  Once the cheese is melting place another tortilla on top, pressing it down pretty hard.  Keep checking the underneath of the bottom tortilla and once it’s golden brown, flip the whole thing over so the other tortilla can brown.  Once the other side is cooked take the whole thing out, place on a plate and cut it in to 6-8 portions (a pizza cutter is easiest but a sharp knife is fine).

Repeat this process two more times until everything is cooked.  Eat the quesadillas piled on a plate and alongside chopped avocado/guacamole/sour cream.  I like to dollop the guacamole on top of the quesadilla portion.  Delicious!

Marshmallow crispy squares

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These marshmallow crispy squares are a great kids treat, contain four ingredients and are really easy to make.  You mix melted marshmallows with rice crispies, vanilla essence and butter then put the mixture in the fridge to harden.  I found the recipe on http://www.allrecipes.co.uk when I was looking for very low effort school fair recipes!  The school fair organiser said anything topped with a chocolate button or sweet sells instantly, hence the smarties.

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Marshmallow crispy squares (makes around 12)

50g butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
200g marshmallows
100g rice crispies (or similar)

Grease a smallish baking tray with butter or margarine, or line it with greaseproof paper.

In a large saucepan, melt the butter over low heat. Add the vanilla. Melt the marshmallows into the butter, stirring. Add the rice crispies when the marshmallows have melted and stir until they are coated. Quickly pour into the prepared tin and press down tightly and evenly. Top with chocolate buttons if you like!
Let set for 2 to 3 hours. Cut into squares.

Eggy bread (10 mins)

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Eggy bread is one of the standout treats of my childhood.  Lovingly made by my mum.  You soak bread in beaten egg, fry each side until golden and slightly crispy then top with sugar and ground cinnamon.  You could also eat it with a little honey on top and bacon on the side.  This time my boys helped plonk the bread in the saucepan (with supervision!)

Nothing beats using demerara sugar as the granules are large and crunchy so you get a little nugget of sweetness.  But any sugar will do.  Comfort food in 10 minutes!

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Eggy bread (serves 2)

2 pieces bread

1 large egg, beaten

Splash of milk

Butter/marge

A little sugar

A little ground cinnamon

Beat a large egg, mix in a splash of milk then pour in to a shallow bowl.  Put both pieces of bread in the bowl to soak, turning them over so they evenly absorb the mixture.  Heat a little butter in a pan  until melted and bubbling slightly then add the bread.  Fry for a few minutes on each side until golden brown and cooked through.  Eat topped with sugar and cinnamon!